Ugo Aliogo in this report writes on Adekunle Gold’s latest work Afropop Vol 1,
For much of the five years he has spent as one of Nigeria’s top music acts, Adekunle Gold has exuded royalty. Since hitting the music scene with “Sade” in 2015, every sonic decision, visual identifier, live show, and strategic choice has seemingly been geared at feeding the overarching narrative of regalness that has defined his career arc. Gold’s musing on the tapestries of young nobility found some expression in the warm assurances of About 30. And the unpredictability and poise of his live performances have elevated his standing in the music industry.
But AfroPop Vol. 1, his latest body of work, is something entirely different, and he knows it. Mere moments into a live TikTok meet and greet with fans on Friday, Gold provided updates about the album that has now crystallized his transition from puppy-eyed lover to grizzled popstar. “A few minutes before I came on here, I tweeted that, just three weeks after its release, AfroPop Vol. 1 is my most streamed album ever. Just three weeks after, it has topped Gold and About 30 in streaming numbers,” he said.
According to critics and journalists, AfroPop Vol. 1 represents Adekunle Gold’s most concise attempt at making pop bangers that can play from club houses to raves. It is an album that, he tells his guests on the TikTok live, has been years in the making.
“The thoughts and everything about AfroPop started in November 2017. That’s when my manager (Oluwagbeminiyi) gave me the idea of the thing. It’s something I have always thought about making, but the name? My manager gave it to me,” he espoused. He affirmed that the name was ready even when the project had only three songs. “It was supposed to be three, four songs, then get that out of the way, but then I started to write and had more than three songs at the end of the writing process,” Gold noted.
From as early as 2018 when Adekunle Gold’s public persona started to evolve from adire clothes to durags and fitting wears that were also paired with an experimental edge to his music, fans and watchers of the music industry had started to note that his early sound, a mix of alternative music and folksy tunes, was changing and many felt that “Call on Me” was the first attempt at this new type of music. It is a theory that Adekunle Gold himself accepts during this conversation, “Honestly, ‘Call on Me’ was my first attempt at Afro-pop and it was a bop,” he asserted. He jokes that he had been warning his fans about the change in style and energy when he said “I go change for you” on the track.
“Call on Me,” one of the songs that made his sophomore album About 30, became a hit. “It didn’t really catch on at first,” Adekunle Gold said. “But when it did, it was wild, and it was my most streamed song for a long time.” The next stage in his journey, as explained by Gold, was “Before You Wake Up,” another of the singles that firmly established him as a popstar in the making. A number of songs followed like “Kelegbe Megbe,” “Young Love,” and “Jore” that precede his album and showed what trajectory he was on.
All that led to AfroPop Vol. 1, the album that has been so effusively received and that is being praised track-by-track in the comment section of Adekunle Gold’s TikTok live. The first song he plays from the project is “Something Different,” a slick song from the album that he thanks the song’s producer, Blaise, and co-writer, Reekado Banks, for. “It was just vibes that night, one night in Lagos, we were bouncing off melodies and, voila, the song came.” But the song the he says is the showpiece from album is “AG Baby,” featuring soca innovator, Nailah Blackman. “AG Baby” reverberates into something distinctly unfamiliar but welcoming with every play and it is that experimental air that has been one of things that won praise for the album as a whole.
Much of this live interaction is devoted to explaining the themes and concept behind the album. A scheduled plan to bring on social media personality, The oddity, failing regardless, Gold runs through songs like “Sabina” and “Pretty Girl” urging his fans to join the
#PrettyGirlChallenge on social media, promising to duet a lot of videos with his fans as time goes on.
The session comes to an end with Adekunle Gold bantering with fans and fielding questions from fans about aspects of his life and the album. It’s been a long journey from when “Sade” newly came out and he had to go from campus to campus to promote the single. In the time since then, Adekunle Gold has grown as a man and, as he brings the TikTok live session to a close, it is abundantly clear that he has grown as an artist too in every sense of the word.
One of the last things he said before bringing the TikTok session to a close is “Afro-pop Vol. 2 will be madder” and we can only imagine.